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For Deaf, Wireless Devices a New Portal to World

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Blind texting

Matt Kochie, who is deaf and works at the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind, sends a text message in this image taken from a video shot in Talladega, AL.

AP Photo / Jay Reeves

Quietly over the last decade, phones that make text messaging easy have changed life profoundly for millions of deaf people.

Gone are the days of a deaf person driving to someone's house just to see if they are home. Wives text their deaf husbands in the basement, just as a hearing wife might yell down the stairs. Deaf teens blend in with the mall crowd since they're constantly texting, like everyone else in high school.

Visit the Alabama School for the Deaf, and it's impossible to miss the signs of a revolution that many hearing people simply never noticed. Most everyone at the school in Talladega has at least one handheld texting device, and some have two. At lunch, deaf diners order burgers and fries by text: Punch in the order and show it at the counter.

For the first time, a generation of deaf people can communicate with the world on its terms, using cell phones, BlackBerrys or iPhones, of which some 260 million are in use in the United States.

From The Associated Press
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